Educators warn of negative effects of not teaching cursive in schools
Lauren Sanchez teaches cursive writing to third graders at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Burbank, California.
July 8th, 2011
09:34 PM ET

Educators warn of negative effects of not teaching cursive in schools

Handwriting experts and educators worry that Indiana's choice to stop teaching cursive in schools could negatively affect a child's ability to learn.

The Indiana Department of Education joined 39 other states in adopting the Common Core curriculum, an initiative to phase out cursive writing in classrooms in favor of providing students more time to hone digital skills.

But some believe the move could adversely affect children.

"The fluidity of cursive allows, I think, for gains in spelling and a better tie to what they are reading and comprehending through stories and such and through literature," said Paul Sullivan, principal of St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Burbank, California.

"I think there’s a firmer connection of wiring between the brain’s processes of learning these skills and the actual practice of writing."

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Filed under: Education • Indiana
soundoff (283 Responses)
  1. Ryan

    I went to school in the early 90's and had to learn cursive along with typing. I managed fine with both. Not sure what the benefits are by not teaching cursive. Might as well teach math with only calculators or have ebooks instead of actually learning how to read. We still need to keep learning no matter what it is and use technology as am enhancement. Thoughts?

    July 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Thank you!!

      July 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rachel

    In the dark ages-50's and 60s–cursive was taught in Kindergarten unless of course you learned it at home before starting school. In High School when we "wrote" essays, we wrote in cursive, not printing. Printing was taught as a convention for labelling work papers–science & math. Letters were written in cursive, and if you were very talented you learned caligraphy.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nate

    I'm wondering where the scientific studies are to back up his claim that "The fluidity of cursive allows, I think, for gains in spelling and a better tie to what they are reading and comprehending through stories and such and through literature". I mean, it could be true but I think such claims would be better made in the light of scientific study. Basing a whole story on someone's weak claims is, well, weak.

    July 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate Gladstone

      I have spent years looking for those rumored "scientific studies" that cursive makes you smarter or better than other forms of handwriting. All I've been able to find have been studies showing that handwriting in ANY style (cursive or not) has some advantages for learning and memory - and misquotations of thosematudis by people who really, rely, want the studies to support cursive only.

      Kate Gladstone — CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
      Director, the World Handwriting Contest
      Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app for iPhone/iPad

      http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

      July 13, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sherie

    Many Christian schools begin teaching cursive in kindergarten. And there is a more fluid form of printing called Denilean (?sp) which is a precurser to cursive, a more natural and fluid form of printing. I am a parent who is teaching my children cursive at home so that they can sign their name when asked and can read text written in cursive when necessary. I agree with some of the above comments in that I would rather the school focus on teaching my children to type. Typing is a much more useful skill for today's children.
    Unfortunately, the focus in many schools is the performance on standardized tests at each grade level. Instead of worrying about whether or not cursive is being taught in schools, we should be focused on whether our children are receiving a complete education, or simply being taught to "pass a test". Those of you with children ask them this "If I have a cookie and break it in half, how many pieces do I have?" Many grade school children will not be able to answer simply "2".

    July 12, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kate Gladstone

    Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter? 

    Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citation on request.) 

    Reading cursive still matters - this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it. 

    Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)

    Kate Gladstone — CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
    Director, the World Handwriting Contest
    Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app for iPhone/iPad

    http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

    July 13, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sharky

    Most kids heck even adults don't even know how to spell things properly, or speak intelligently. Kids only like netspeak.

    July 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
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    July 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. evy

    i was taught cursive in the 3rd grade. the teachers told me i would only be allowed to write in cursive in middle school and in high school. LIES.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. svi

    Cursive writing is beautiful, and easy to teach. Basic digital skills barely have to be taught at all – kids take to them on their own. There should be room for both on the curriculum.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. svi

    The computers I learned in high school were obsolete by the time I graduated. They also required far more study time than cursive does. The digital learning was very helpful (even now that I'm 30-something), but children who are in primary school will only need the basic mobile-phone and Web skills that they pick up from each other already. They will not teach each other the finer points of language or culture.

    Cursive writing is not solely a practical virtue – it is part of our linguistic heritage. When someone writes you a note in cursive, you know two things; a) that this person has a head on their shoulders, and that b) they thought you were worth the trouble of something more than email.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chris

    Just another example why the United States Education ranks so low in respect to the rest of the world and it continues to go down. It's a true shame

    July 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Don

    If they don't learn cursive, how they gonna know how to sign their name?

    July 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tessa

    Writing itself helps you connect with reading and spelling, not cursive. I think handwriting itself is worth teaching (teachers need to read what the student is writing!), but cursive just isn't necessary anymore. I stopped using cursive after 4th grade, and I've never been required to use it since. I write plenty of notes to myself, but if I need to do something official, like a report or paper, I'd be laughed out of my job if I turned in a cursive stack of papers. I think we've definitely got more important things to teach... have you seen our nation's math and science scores?!

    July 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jz

    Is there any science to the link between cursive and " gains in spelling and a better tie to what they are reading and comprehending through stories and such and through literature", or is this just some hack principal making things up because they "feel" right? (BTW, "and such"?)

    August 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Susan

    If we have a generation that doesn't learn and then it becomes the norm, how will these kids/adults be able to read their family and country's written history? I think this action looks very poorly on Indiana – very narrow minded.

    August 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
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